Friday, January 18, 2019

Podcasts I Like Lately

Oh my, for the past few weeks, things turned out far more hectic at the office than I originally anticipated! I was working on a large, urgent project, and the pace of it really took me by surprise. But the finished product turned out well, and I was glad to have the chance to play a sizable role in that. I always do enjoy legal research and writing, regardless of the topic or issue at hand. 

For today, here's a fairly low-key post while I ease back into writing here. There's so much that I want to discuss recently, but because I have so much to say about every little thing, it'll take a while to get all my thoughts down about any of the other ideas I have for new posts. Topics that have interested me lately include: (1) some utterly bizarre and unfair reactions to Marie Kondo, ostensibly from people who are really into books, but perhaps not enough to actually read her book and comprehend it; (2) a... situation... that arose in the minimalist-ish and slow fashion space, primarily on Instagram; and (3) that "millenial burnout" thing, and how it looks very different for different demographics. For that last thing, I certainly have my own take on it and how it plays out in my own life. And, of course, I always have a gigantic backlog of other post ideas, many of them months or even years old, that I've never gotten around to. 

Today, though, the focus is on something smaller, on a few podcasts that I've enjoyed recently. Maybe these are all very obvious recommendations that practically everyone in the world is already familiar with, but I myself am quite new to the world of listening to podcasts! Over the years, I'd listened to episodes from some of the most popular ones, mainly the first season of Serial and some of This American Life, but other than that, I'd never really been interested in anything else. It was only in the last few months that I decided I wanted to expand my podcast horizons a bit, to find some new ones to listen to while commuting. 

In no particular order, here are the podcasts I've listened to in the past few months and that I thought were particularly well done, and some thoughts on why I recommend each:

Dr. Death: Holy moly, this was a wild ride, and I couldn't stop listening! It's a shocking and absolutely horrifying story. (Be warned, there's quite a few descriptions of botched surgery, which I found rather graphic and, for lack of a better word, squicky). As the podcast tells it, a perfect storm of bad things (including some deficiencies in how the medical profession regulates itself) came together, and multiple patients paid a high price. Wondery does an excellent job telling this story, and it was engaging the whole way through. I've been trying to get into their other famous true crime podcast, Dirty John, but I don't find that one as compelling. 

Limetown Season One: And my recommendation only extends to the first season for this, unfortunately. This was my first experience listening to a fiction-based podcast, and it was really fun! They did a great job setting up the mystery and revealing just enough in each episode to keep me intrigued and eager to listen to the next one. Alas, as they revealed more and more, the story started sounding silly, and I couldn't keep listening after the first episode of the second season. Because of the cliffhanger on which they ended season one, there wasn't much momentum going into season two. It just felt like a very abrupt and clumsy transition. 

Believed: Out of all the terrible things we keep learning about these past few years, one of the things that struck me the most was the Larry Nassar case, and what it revealed about the culture of abuse in USA Gymnastics. I have such a hard time comprehending how so many adults can turn a blind eye for so long to harm that is being done to children under their care, to ignore allegations of serious abuses, and to fail to investigate or report. That breach of trust, that failure to protect people who are vulnerable and to whom one owes a duty of care, I just- My words fail me. Few other things make me so angry. 

I remember, in 2016, listening to an interview with McKayla Maroney on Gymcastic and feeling like there was something under the surface, there was something darker or heavier going on there, but that seemed to go unstated or unexplained. And to know now about what had happened, I'm just so horrified and sad, and so angry at all the adults who should have known better.

Hidden Brain: This podcast came highly recommended by a good friend of mine who is an economics professor. (By the way, I can still hardly believe that friends my age, whom I grew up with, are actual, bona-fide professors now! It's just so exciting and cool to me, because whenever I've been a student, I've always been so in awe of my professors and their knowledge and expertise. To think that some of my own peers are professors now themselves, it's astounding! Time sure passes fast!) The host is really good at interviewing the scholars he invites onto the show, and I've learned a lot of new and interesting things from it. Because I'm so steeped in the law and my own profession most of the time, I sometimes feel like I live in a bit of an intellectual bubble, where I perhaps don't spend enough time thinking about ideas or perspectives from other academic disciplines. Hidden Brain does a good job of expanding my horizons a little. 

Death, Sex & Money: Nearly a year ago, I wrote about one of Buzzfeed's collaboration pieces with Death, Sex & Money, a story of divorce and the resulting dramatic changes in the author's economic class status over the course of her life thus far. I had been fascinated by the story, and a bit frustrated by some of the reactions to it, which I felt were unfair. Somehow, though, despite being so interested in the story, and so determined to get as much information as I could about it, to try and find the nuances that I didn't think most other people were seeing, I never thought to check out the actual podcast until a few months ago. And it's a wonderful podcast in general, both that episode and all the others I've listened to (I've gone through most of their back catalog), though I might secretly wish that money was the main focus of more of its episodes.

Fairer Cents: I've been interested in finding money and personal finance-focused podcasts, but it's been hard to find one that can hold my interest in the long term. I guess I'm a very picky consumer when it comes to money-related content. Recently, for instance, I finally got off the library's waitlist for their single copy of the e-book of The Index Card by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack (affiliate link), but I couldn't read past the first chapter. It wasn't that it was a bad book. To the contrary, it seemed to be an excellent and sensible introduction to the basics of personal finance management. But it bored me to tears, because I felt like I had already learned all of the fundamentals it described (thanks to the two other introductory personal finance books I'd already read in somewhat recent memory). I guess my "ideal" type of money-related content emphasizes the "personal" in personal finance, much more than the "finance". So the Fairer Cents podcast is right up my alley, particularly because I'm also interested in discussions about the feminist perspective on personal finance.

What are your favorite podcasts? Any particularly good money or business-focused podcasts to recommend? Have you been following that discussion about "millenial burnout"? Did you watch Marie Kondo's Netflix show, and did you enjoy it? I quite liked it, and I thought she was absolutely delightful, though er, some of the family situations depicted on the show felt rather stressful, let's just say. 

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